Gravitas, UTV to import Bollywood features

'Raajneeti,' 'Peepli Live' are first releases under deal

Bollywood fans in the U.S. will now have access to prime Indian film fare, courtesy of Gravitas Ventures.

Gravitas has partnered in a deal with India's largest film studio, UTV Motion Pictures, to bring UTV features to the States via theaters and video on demand. The arrangement will first feature two upcoming releases -- the political thriller "Raajneeti" and the Sundance feature "Peepli Live."

"Raajneeti," directed by Prakash Jha, will open in theaters June 4, then move on to an early August VOD release through Gravitas' deal with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. Written and directed by Anusha Rizvi, "Peepli" will open in Indian theaters August 13, followed by a North American VOD rollout at the beginning of October.

It's an auspicious time for Indian material. This past weekend, Reliance Big Pictures' "Kites," which was shot entirely in the U.S., launched on 2,500 screens worldwide and grossed around $14 million, including nearly $1 million from U.S. theaters. The Brett Ratner-shepherded "Kites - The Remix" will hit theaters Friday.

"As a leading distributor of Hindi films, UTV Motion Pictures offers high caliber titles that resonate with both Indian film lovers and English audiences," said Gravitas founder and CEO Nolan Gallagher.

UTV and Gravitas first collabrated on the May 1 release of "Dev D" and "Kaminey" on VOD. In late 2010, Gravitas will release the UTV-produced English-language film "ExTerminators," starring Heather Graham and Amber Heard.

"It is our constant endeavor to expand our reach in the international markets to a larger audience," said Lokesh Dhar, UTV's senior vp motion pictures, North America. "The partnership with Gravitas Ventures will ensure UTV's penetration further into the U.S. market, and we hope that more people are able to experience the exciting cinema that our studio has backed."

Gravitas, which specializes in the aggregation of content for the cable VOD, broadband, mobile and airline/hospitality industries, has recently acquired films such as Stacy Peralta's "Crips and Bloods Made in America," Ondi Timoner's "We Live in Public," Marianna Palka's "Good Dick" and Michael Keaton's "The Merry Gentleman."